By EVA VOINIGESCU
Toronto has no lack of high-end shops—Chanel, Hugo Boss, Holt Renfrew—but the shopper looking for affordable and unique pieces should turn to the other side of the retail market: vintage stores. Toronto is blessed with many such shops, and they run the gamut from clothes to house wares, and from menswear to womenswear. Here, our list of top Toronto vintage stores, organized by product.
AMPLE & ACCESSIBLE
Shopping for vintage clothing can be intimidating to first-timers. It takes patience and perseverance, but you’ll be rewarded with unique and affordable apparel, making this a great option for those who are both budget- and fashion-conscious. In Toronto, a few staple vintage stores make the experience easy. Black Market, in the Queen West neighbourhood, is known for its frequent sales and huge selection of concert t-shirts and leather jackets. Kensington Market’s eclectic Courage My Love offers cool clothes and an extensive collection of beads and jewellery sourced from far-off lands.
• Black Market, 256 Queen St. W., 416-599-5858, blackmarkettoronto.com
• Courage My Love, 14 Kensington Ave., 416-979-1992, couragemylove.ca, map and reviews
If searching through musty frocks and beat-up loafers isn’t your thing, a number of Toronto vintage stores make it their mission to source only the highest quality pieces from the past. On Ossington Avenue, I Miss You has an excellent assortment of dry-cleaned, rip-free gowns, including some designer pieces, plus an oft-praised selection of accessories. Queen West’s Cabaret takes things a step farther with an inviting space that transports you to the 1950’s and carries lovingly restored special-occasion garb for both men and women. And in tony Yorkville, The Cat’s Meow offers an exclusive shopping experience with timeless pieces from the likes of Yves Saint-Laurent and Dior, as well as beautifully tailored dresses for your special event.
• I Miss You, 63 Ossington Ave., 416-916-7021
• Cabaret, 672 Queen St. W., 416-504-7126, cabaretvintage.com, map and reviews
• The Cat’s Meow, 180 Avenue Rd., 647-435-5875, thecatsmeow.com, map and reviews
FOR THE GENTS
Men’s clothing often plays second fiddle at retail stores, so a great selection of menswear can put a store on the map. Such is the case at Toronto vintage stores Philistine and House of Vintage. Philistine does carry womenswear—not to mention its own independent label and an excellent selection of shoes—but it is best known for its demin, plaid and other carefully curated workwear pieces for men. Even more choice apparel for retro lads, as well as an enviable footwear collection, can be had just down the street at House of Vintage. Among other things, be sure to check out the stock of perfectly broken in leather boots.
• Philistine, 1394 Queen St. W., 416-532-3662, philistinetoronto.com
• House of Vintage, 1239 Queen St. W., 416-535-2142, houseofvintage.com, map and reviews
Adding vintage accessories and flourishes to your home is an increasingly popular decor trend. From gently scuffed wood tables to antique lamps and repurposed crates and bottles, these pieces help create an effortlessly charming “lived in” ambience, and they’re remarkably easy to find at Toronto vintage stores. Stop in at Parkdale’s Public Butter for affordable items like an iron and wood chest or authentic barn board for Pinterest-inspired DIY projects. For the less crafty, Leslieville’s Love the Design presents a selection of skillfully chosen, high-quality, ready-for-use pieces like a pair of Louis XV-style chairs upholstered in cow-hide and vintage glass pendants turned into light fixtures. Or tramp to Blackbird Vintage Finds, aptly ensconced in the Victorian-era Distillery Historic District, for the likes of antique signs, globes and vintage-inspired greeting cards, soaps and candles.
• Public Butter, 1290 Queen St. W., 416-535-4343, thepublicbutter.com
• Love the Design, 1362 Queen St. E., 416-408-1727, lovethedesign.com, map and reviews
• Blackbird Vintage Finds, 55 Mill St., 416-681-0558, blackbirdvintage.com, map and reviews